Have I Reached My Limit with ATT?

I like my phone.  I just got it four or five months ago, and it works well for what I want.  It’s a semi-smart phone, which means I can check email from web-based programs (for me, gmail and yahoo mail) and do some minor surfing and post to Facebook.  It’s not great for intensive sites, but I usually am not doing that stuff on my phone anyway.  The phone has a great keyboard for texting (remember, I have teenagers and they only talk in text), and some useful apps like a calendar I use almost daily.

It’s biggest downfall?  It’s on the ATT network.  This morning when I got up and was headed to work, I needed to take care of something quickly via email.  My usual 3G signal was gone, and I only had EDGE to work with.  Really, ATT?  There’s a tower with line of sight of my house.  This is not the first time this has happened.  In fact, it’s maybe the third time in the last thirty days, not to mention the two times that service near my home was completely disrupted and we had nothing for three or four hours.  And I’ve written before about the trouble I had with ATT’s wireless broadband. And don’t even get me started on the nightmare service calls I’ve had lately regarding the ATT DSL connection to our home.  But the straw that has broken the camel’s back for me was our recent trip to Wisconsin.  I was in and near the Wisconsin Dells.  You would think I’d have had at least enough signal to make a phone call.  You would be wrong.

Really, ATT?  I’m paying you more than $200 a month for four phones with service and I can’t get service in places where I spend my time, and where I’d like to spend my time?  Your coverage map is completely bogus; I’ve checked the map, I should have had a signal every place I went last week (according to your map).

The problem is, I just replaced two phones on my contract, and have two more due for renewal this year.  If I jump ship now I’m going to be paying a hefty termination fee, a fee I really can’t afford to pay.  My only choice is to hold out for two years until I can move to a new provider, something I don’t want to do.  And the fact is, at least one of the phones that needs renewal this year is going to have to be replaced, regardless, as it is beginning to lose functionality.

What is a poor geek girl to do?  And what other provider do I jump ship to when it is time?  In my mind, they are all basically the same; if I switch providers, am I really going to have better service, or is it going to be the same, just with a different name on the top of my bill?

4 thoughts on “Have I Reached My Limit with ATT?

  1. I had a Sprint air card for more than 5 years. Once they started rolling out 3G, I began to notice that often in the middle of the night, usually around midnight, the 3G service would suddenly go away and all that was available was 1XRT.

    What was happening was that specific towers were being worked on. All cell carriers do it pretty much the same way — the schedule repairs/upgrades during the middle of the night in order to minimize impact on network peak usage times — i.e., the daytime and evening. Both Verizon and AT&T do it this way too.

    AT&T will likely eventually get it’s network fixed. They have an inherent disadvantage in that their network is GSM, whereas Sprint and Verizon are CDMA and often have CDMA sharing agreements in place for different towers.

    I have a Sprint phone and a Verizon (formerly from Alltel) air card. Verizon does have the best 3G coverage of the two, followed very closely by Sprint.

  2. Sounds like a tough spot. I was an ATT customer, and then a Cingular customer, and then an ATT customer again before switching to Verizon just over a year ago. I worked hard to maintain fairly current Windows Mobile phones while at the same time avoiding extending my contract period as much as possible. This certainly helped a lot when I finally jumped carriers. While I don’t have any good advice on how to avoid the early termination fees, I would recommend you find someone that uses a different carrier who might be willing to spend some time with you to compare reception in various areas. Don’t just check Verizon, alhtough for me, they had superior coverage everywhere I spent time. I mean EVERYWHERE! Work, home, traveling to see family and friends throughout WA, ID, and MT. I’m paying more per month (by about $10) but I have reception where and when I need it. Best of luck!

  3. I agree with you on the “they are all basically the same” sentiment. We are on Verizon and have been pretty happy with the service right now.

    But if we weren’t, what would I do? We just replaced 3 of our 4 phones last November, with the last one coming due in a few months (and like you, needing replacement). So we’d get the same hefty fees (likely more because of my Droid)!

    Also, VZW is the only one with solid signal here (my Droid almost always has solid 3G … unless I hold it wrong of course ;) ) and I have too many friends frustrated by AT&T’s crap service here. Also, all of both my and my wife’s family is on VZW, meaning that all of those 2 hour calls between my wife and her sister cost nothing …

    Not easy, that is for sure!

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